23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch announced on October 15 that he will step away from full-time Cup Series competition while focusing on his health. Now team owner Denny Hamlin has responded with praise for Busch’s impact on the organization.
Hamlin met with media members after Busch’s announcement at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He explained that the team had hoped to see Busch starting more races than he did, but he also noted that the veteran driver approached his recovery better than he would have.
“Certainly, it’s a loss for our team,” Hamlin said during his media availability on October 15. “I really wanted Kurt to be part of this for at least two years and possibly a third year. For him to only get half a season obviously was not what we intended, but just in the short amount of time he was part of our organization, he made it better.
“I mean, he did what we expected and beyond really quickly. I think we are going to continue to reap the benefits of him being part of our team even if it’s outside of being a race car driver, and we’ll transition to Tyler [Reddick] next year.”
Busch Made 20 Starts for 23XI Racing
Busch took over the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD at the start of the 2022 season, and he delivered strong performances in only 20 Cup Series starts. He posted eight top-10 finishes, five top-fives, and a win at Kansas Speedway in which he set a new record for laps led by the organization (116).
While Busch only made 20 starts, he delivered 23XI Racing’s second win as an organization. He also had a positive impact on teammate Bubba Wallace, something that many people have mentioned as the 29-year-old has turned in a career season.
“To be a mentor with Bubba, I mean, the kid’s great,” Busch said during his press conference. “The strides he’s made since my accident. His average finish is up in the top five since my accident, and the way he’s carried and this team, we’re going to the next level.”
Busch will continue to serve as a mentor to Wallace, and he will also do so with Tyler Reddick. He will push to help the two-time Xfinity Series champion be a major factor in the Cup Series for years to come.
Busch Does Not Know Exactly What His Future Holds
Will Busch immediately move into an executive role with 23XI Racing, or will he focus on something else first? He will obviously have a role with the team while helping guide Wallace and Reddick, but Busch could also join FOX Sports for some time in the booth after previously serving as an analyst during select races.
The 2004 Cup Series champion doesn’t have an exact answer so soon after making the decision to stop competing full-time. What he does know, however, is that he doesn’t have any regrets at this point in time.
“I’m at peace with where things are,” Busch said. “I was close to the end of my contract and that full drive for a championship run. I was real close to that anywhere. It just happened a little sooner. But to race part-time and to enjoy things with a little less pressure, I think that will help fulfill things and close that door.”